Album Review | Injury Reserve

This album was released on May 17th this year. I haven’t written about Injury Reserve on this website before, but I’m actually a fan of them. I think every project they’ve released up to this point has been great. Their 2017 EP, Drive It Like It’s Stolen, is probably my favorite project they’ve done up to this point for a couple reasons. First of all, it’s only 7 tracks, so there wasn’t really much room for error. However, the main reason it’s my favorite project from them is that it doesn’t just sound like everything else they’ve done. They actually kinda changed their sound a little bit. It’s more understated and lowkey than their other shit. There aren’t any super hard-hitting Trap songs on it. I love Floss, but it honestly kinda just sounded like more of the same. I do think it’s better than Live from the Dentist Office though. I was also kinda confused when I saw that this self titled project was their debut album because I thought Floss was an album. I remember people calling it an album when it came out. Apparently it’s just a mixtape though. With that in mind, I’m hoping this’ll be the sound of their previous work on steroids. Hopefully it’s their best work yet. Obviously every song is produced by Parker Corey.

1. Koruna & Lime co-produced by Melik XYZ & A-Trak

This was the final single from the album, and it’s the only one I hadn’t heard before listening to the full project. Anyway, the beat on this track is hard as fuck. I think Parker Corey is a really underrated producer. He’d probably get more credit if he produced for other people. I’m fine with him just sticking to the Injury Reserve stuff though. That Rhythm Roulette episode he did for Mass Appeal was great by the way. Check that shit out if you haven’t seen it yet. Anyway, I’m not crazy about the intro to this song. It’s not really bad at all. It just lasts too long in my opinion. It feels like it takes a really long time for the song to actually get going. This song has a pretty simplistic structure. It’s just two verses. There’s no hook. The first verse from Steppa J. Groggs was pretty dope. Ritchie did his thing too on the second verse, but I didn’t like it as much as Groggs’ verse. The scratches towards the end of the song from A-Trak sounded really good. This is a pretty nice song. It’s not amazing or anything, but I enjoyed it quite a bit. This shit is dope.

2. Jawbreaker featuring Rico Nasty & Pro Teens co-produced by Melik XYZ & Pro Teens

This was the first single released from the album. The bells in the instrumental sound really familiar. I feel like I’ve heard a similar melody in the past. Maybe this track samples a song that I’ve heard before. Oh, wait. I know what it is. It reminds me of the Closing instrumental by Substantial & Malcolm Jackson from Substantial Sundays. It’s not that similar though. Anyway, I like the hook from Pro Teens. It sounds like there’s a lot of Indie Rock influence in this track. It sounds really good. I also love how Ritchie called out the rapist Ian Connor right before his verse started. I’m mad more rappers haven’t publicly shitted on that dude. I hope that nigga gets shot. Anyway, Ritchie’s actual verse was tight. I like the content of this track. They’re basically rapping about fashion and how everybody else is lame for having the same exact style. I’ve noticed that as well. A lot of niggas seem to always wear the same shit. I wish Ritchie’s verse was longer, but it was still good. Same goes for Groggs. In fact, the only rapper who really spit more than 8 bars was Rico Nasty. She did her thing, but her voice is still annoying as fuck to me. She sounds so grating on this track. Her verse was cool though. Overall, I think this is a good track. I just wish Injury Reserve had more of a presence on it. It’s weird that Rico Nasty had the longest verse on Injury Reserve’s lead single for their self titled debut album. It’s a good song though. I enjoyed it. The production is my favorite aspect of it. Rico Nasty’s verse was my least favorite part, but it’s only really because of her voice. The verse itself wasn’t bad at all. This is another dope track.

3. GTFU featuring Cakes da Killa & JPEGMAFIA

Awww shit. Okay, here we go. This beat is hard as FUCK. Same goes for the hook from JPEGMAFIA. It reminded me of Hothead by Death Grips, except it doesn’t make me feel like I’m listening to one of those “ear rape” memes. Cakes da Killa snapped on that first verse. This shit is hard, my nigga. Based on my very limited knowledge, Cakes da Killa seems to be the hardest gay rapper out right now. The dude sounds like he’d fuck you up if you pissed him off enough. Ritchie did his thing on the second verse, but it wasn’t as captivating to me as the first one from Cakes. The way the beat switches up right after Ritchie’s verse is cool. The beat gets a lot softer, which kinda makes sense. Groggs probably wouldn’t have fit very well over that harder sound. I like the relatively melodic sound of the second part of the song. Damn. This dude just referenced Big Quint. That’s dope. So now JPEGMAFIA has mentioned Myke C-Town, J57 has mentioned Anthony Fantano, and Steppa J. Groggs has mentioned Big Quint. I can only hope that one day I’ll be included in that list. It’d probably be someone dissing me though. To be honest, that’d be ideal. Anyway, Groggs actually killed that last verse. That was really dope. This is easily my favorite track on the album so far. A verse from Peggy would’ve been cool, but I was satisfied with his performance on the hook. Cakes da Killa snapped on that first verse, and Groggs had a great verse too. This shit is dope af.

4. QWERTY Interlude performed by Lil QWERTY

This is a thirty second interlude in which Lil QWERTY raps about music pirating applications. I can’t really say I enjoyed this track at all, but I don’t think I should judge it as a normal song since it’s only half a minute. I guess they included it as a way to give more shine to Lil QWERTY, but I can’t say it makes me wanna check out his music. He didn’t really do anything to impress me at all. None of the lines stood out, and his flow was pretty conventional. The way the lines were glitching wasn’t really enjoyable for me either. I’m probably paying far more attention to this track than I’m supposed to…

5. Jailbreak the Tesla featuring Aminé

This was the second single released from this album. I think it’s the first one I actually listened to. The beat on this track is hard as hell, but, once again, the melody of the bells sounds really familiar. I don’t think they sampled a track I’ve heard before, but I’ve definitely heard that melody in a Hip Hop song before. It’s not like it’s a super unique melody, but it sounds good on this track. The first verse from Ritchie on this track is awesome. His flow is dope as hell, and the weird way he incorporated the autotune effect makes him sound like a robot while he’s rapping, but not in a bad way. The way Parker Corey incorporated the sounds of cars after the hook is really fucking cool too. Aminé killed that second verse. He had one of the dopest punchlines I’ve heard all year.

Your engine go “vroom” and my engine go [silence]

It’s a really great song. I kinda wish the ending wasn’t so abrupt, and a verse from Groggs would’ve been cool. This song is just Ritchie & Aminé. I think it’s easily the best single though. This shit is dope af.

6. Gravy n’ Biscuits

The beat on this track is pretty good. The sung hook is fine. It’s not great singing, but it’s not really that bad. It doesn’t really hurt the song in my opinion. It works. The first verse from Groggs is fantastic. He killed that shit.

Yo, I went from Duck, Duck, Goose to gettin’ fucked up off Goose
Connect Four to hittin’ my connect for
Four grams or more, just to make it through the day
Now I fly for some Harold’s and come back the same day

Ritchie’s verse was solid, but it wasn’t nearly as entertaining to me. This is a pretty short track. It’s just under two minutes and 40 seconds long. There are only two verses. One of them is great, and the other is solid. The beat is pretty good. The hook is decent. Overall, I think this is a pretty good track. It’s probably my least favorite song so far, but I still enjoyed it. It’s good.

7. Rap Song Tutorial

I saw a lot of people talking about this track when the album dropped. People either thought it was lame, or they thought it was genius. Okay, I just listened to the whole track. I don’t know what the hell people were talking about. This is not that creative. I guess it’s supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, but the track isn’t very enjoyable at all. The way it’s constantly starting and stopping in order for the AI voice to proceed to the next step just kills any and all momentum the song has over and over again. The production isn’t that good—it sounds like they went to YouTube and searched “Injury Reserve type beat”—and the hook and verse from Ritchie aren’t particularly enjoyable either. Steppa J. Groggs is nowhere to be found on this track. Pretty much nothing about this track was enjoyable to me. I don’t understand why people thought this was so inventive. I’m not feelin’ this track. I don’t know why they thought it was a good idea to include this on the album. It sounds so out of place. Maybe if it was labeled as a skit it would make more sense. This shit is wack to me though.

8. Wax On featuring Freddie Gibbs co-produced by Melik XYZ

Oh fucking shit. This beat is amazing. The hook from Ritchie with a T is pretty dope too. The first verse from Steppa J. Groggs was solid. He did his thing. I’m not super impressed, but it wasn’t bad at all. Freddie Gibbs easily had the best verse. He killed that shit. I wasn’t crazy about the way it started, but once he actually started going in it was great. He stole the show to be honest. A verse from Ritchie would’ve been appreciated. I don’t know why a lot of the songs with features don’t have both of the rappers in the group rapping that much. The track with JPEGMAFIA & Cakes da Killa had verses from both of the members. I guess the one with Rico Nasty technically had verses from both of them too, but they were really short. Groggs didn’t rap on the Aminé track, and now Ritchie just did the hook on this one. It’s not like Groggs couldn’t have done that hook himself though. It’s not a huge issue for me that Ritchie didn’t rap on this song because he most likely would’ve gotten outshined by Freddie just like Groggs did. Anyway, I know I didn’t really say much about this track in particular, but that’s because I don’t have a very strong opinion. It’s a dope track. I love the beat, and Freddie killed it. I wasn’t crazy about Groggs’ verse though, and the hook got old pretty quickly. It’s still a really good song though. It’s definitely one of the better tracks so far in my opinion. It’s really dope.

9. What a Year It’s Been co-produced by Melik XYZ & Hip Hop

Oh man. This production is gorgeous. I love this first verse from Groggs too. This is definitely the most substantive song on the album so far lyrically. They haven’t really been saying much so far, but this song has some really personal content. As you can tell from the title, they’re reflecting on the past year they’ve had.

What a year it’s been; a lot of ups and downs
Keep fallin’ off the wagon, but never hit the ground
Or should I say the bottom? That’s a place I’ll never go
Was drinkin’ hella heavy, had no self-control
Started doubtin’ myself, had no motivation
Liquor and depression is a bad combination

I like how he performed the verse with no percussion. The way they shifted the pitch of certain words was cool, and the glitchy effects they had on Ritchie’s first verse were cool too. The percussion that eventually comes in for the second verse from Ritchie is very abrasive. I’m not sure how I feel about it to be honest. I mean, I definitely like it to some extent. That’s just not really the direction I wanted the track to go in. The second verse from Ritchie was really good though. I liked it. There’s no hook on this track. Overall, I think it’s a pretty dope song. I like the content, and the beat was really great. The autotuned outro sounded a lot like Kanye West. But yeah, I like this one. It’s dope.

10. Hello!?

This track is completely unnecessary. It’s just over a minute long. Ritchie is just singing poorly about how people only hear what they want. I have no idea why this is here. The beat is dope. They probably could’ve made a dope song with it. This just feels like a waste of time though. I don’t think it’s completely wack since the beat is dope, but it certainly isn’t something I’m ever gonna wanna hear again. It’s mediocre to me.

11. Best Spot in the House co-produced by Melik XYZ & Technician

Oh fucking shit. This beat is fucking awesome. The first verse from Ritchie is really dope too. I’m glad there’s more substance lyrically in this second half of the album.

I’ve had niggas that come up to me, say that they looked up to me, yeah
And that they been fuckin’ with me since shit was ugly, yeah
And that these songs, man, they saved they life
Now, how you put that kind of power in these hands of mine?
And how a nigga ‘posed respond to some shit like that?
Am I supposed to “Oh, thanks,” pat they back?
I ain’t tryna take away from the experience they had
But, honestly, I’m not prepared for some shit like that

It’s easily the most personal song on the album. I saw somebody say it’s North Pole, Pt. 2. I don’t know if this was initially supposed to be a sequel to that song or if they’re just saying that because the songs are similar in tone. It’s most likely the latter. Anyway, the autotuned hook from Parker Corey on this track is absolutely terrible. It’s really a bummer because this probably would’ve been one of my favorite songs on the whole album if that hook was better or nonexistent. The second verse from Groggs is pretty great. Fuck, man. I really want to love this song more than I do. That hook is fucking God awful though. That shit was a mistake. Anyway, I like the song overall. Obviously I’m disappointed that the hook almost ruined it for me, but as a whole I still think it’s a really good track. It’s dope.

12. New Hawaii featuring D.R.A.M., Tony Velour & Dylan Brady co-produced by Melik XYZ

The production on this track is cool. The hook from Tony Velour is okay. His singing isn’t really that good to me to be honest. It’s not bad though. They definitely could’ve gotten a more impressive vocalist for that hook. Shit, D.R.A.M. probably would’ve sounded better on that shit to be honest. The talk box vocals from Dylan Brady sound okay. I’ve never really been into that vocal effect, but it’s not too bad here. Hmmm… This is kinda boring to be honest. The song starts off really slow. I like D.R.A.M.’s verse though. He sounds good. The final verse from Ritchie was pretty good. Steppa J. Groggs is nowhere to be found on this song. This track is cool overall. I definitely like it to some extent, but it’s one of the weaker songs in my opinion. It’s still good though.

13. Three Man Weave

The beat on this track is fantastic. There’s a lot of Little Brother influence on this track. In fact, Phonte even has some additional vocals on this song. He just does the ad-libs though. The two verses from Groggs & Ritchie on this song are really great, but they are way too short. I’d be fine with the short length if they each came back in to spit an additional verse. They didn’t though. They each spit like 8 bars, and then the hook just comes back in, and the song ends. This definitely would’ve been the best song if they just rapped more. The production is absolutely stellar, and what little rapping they did was great too. I love that jab Ritchie took at Russ. That was funny. I wish there was more rapping on this song, but it’s still one of the best tracks on the album in my opinion. I think it’s dope af.

This album is pretty good. It’s easily the worst project I’ve ever heard from Injury Reserve though. I was expecting Floss on steroids. Instead what I got was a somewhat formulaic project in which it almost seems like they’re phoning it in. Damn. That’s actually a little harsh to be honest. This album seriously lacks a lot of the excitement that their previous work had though. I also think this is the first time I’ve heard an Injury Reserve song that I think is legitimately bad. I feel like the features on this project kinda outshined them on a lot of the songs too. It just felt like the songs lacked the excitement and creativity of a lot of their other work. Even the beats from Parker Corey aren’t quite as interesting to me as they’ve been in the past. They’re still really good though. This is definitely a good album, but if you haven’t ever heard these guys’ music in the past, I don’t think this is a good entry point. I’d start with Floss to be honest. This is good though. I just don’t feel like they did anything better than they’ve done in the past. It feels like a step down in pretty much every way. The hype tracks aren’t as hard, beats aren’t better, the hooks aren’t catchier, the lyrics aren’t more interesting… It’s just not the upgrade I was expecting. It feels disjointed at points too. They could’ve cut this down to 10 tracks in my opinion. The Rap Song Tutorial, QWERTY interlude, and Hello?! tracks could’ve been left on the cutting room floor. Anyway, I know I’ve been very critical here, but that’s because it feels like a downgrade. It’s not like they completely went to shit though. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed, but overall I enjoyed it. It’s a good album.

Favorite Song: Jailbreak the Tesla
Least Favorite Track: Rap Song Tutorial


Watch the videos below for more thoughts on this album.

Grade: B-

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